The Miami Heat are the 2012 NBA champions. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it anymore. LeBron James has his ring and South Beach is partying a little harder than usual this morning.
So why is there a bad taste in my mouth? It’s not because I don’t think LeBron doesn’t deserve a title. He’s, arguably, the best athlete to ever step foot on a basketball court. He was going to win one eventually, right?So why does his first Finals MVP and Larry O’Brien trophy just give me the warm and fuzzies like watching most every other pro sports team win a title? It’s because it feels like the Heat took the quick and easy route to a title.
In the summer of 2010, when Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and James were all in the same free agent market and all got together before the signing period began, they made a deal outside of the league to go to same team and win a title as one of the greatest teams to set foot on a pro basketball court.
We, as viewers, suffered through James’ courting of other NBA teams and “The Decision”, only to watch Bosh and Wade head to Miami and wait for LeBron to make his announcement in a debacle of a publicity stunt.
Before the ink had dried on their contracts they were throwing a party proclaiming their eventual glory. On June 21st, that proclamation became truth and the Heat are now champions of the NBA.
Their opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were the underdogs throughout the Finals. They were inexperienced, very young but they were just as athletic as the Heat and had a deeper bench (Miami’s bench averaged 15.4 points per game. Compared to OKC’s bench averaging 24 ppg.)
OKC had a three-headed monster that could parallel Miami’s in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. But their inexperience is what lost them four straight games and a title.
But a large portion of the country rooted for the Thunder, not because they were like the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars, fighting the evil Empire. But because OKC had done what a lot of people feel is the “right way” to build your team: From within.
Durant, Westbrook and Harden have never set foot on a basketball court for another team. Two-thirds of Miami’s big three were purchased.
When all is said and done, in the annals of the NBA history books, the Heat are champions, through and through. But as a fan of the NBA and basketball, I feel a little cheated. We knew this day was coming sooner or later. The Heat would hoist the O’Brien trophy and party even harder than they did at their “Big Three Pep Rally”.
Their win just feels… flaky. Without James, this team doesn’t win a title. That is why he was the Finals MVP. That is why the Heat are champions. But that is what they were bought to do.
LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh earned this title. They still had to play the game before becoming champions. But with the way Pat Riley and the Heat got to this point… It feels more like they bought their title.